Book Review: Tuned In

I ran across a great book that I wanted to share with you. It is called Tuned In by Craig Stull, Phil Myers & David Meerman Scott.

It’s a must read for anyone who struggles to get their product or service to resonate with their market (or anyone who struggles with someone always offering their opinion with little to back it up).

Give it a look!

Happy Thursday everyone!

Violate the category, not your brand

We all know that you must differentiate your brand or it will blend in with the surrounding landscape of the crowded marketplace. A good way to do this is to violate a category worldview.

Take the category of rock bands in the 1960’s. Most felt like they knew how a rock band should look and act during this time. Then along came The Beatles.

Or take the category of video game systems. Not to long ago we all felt like we knew what a video game system should be like. Then along came the Wii.

A great way to succeed is to have a brand that violates/stretches/splinters and generally turns upside-down how consumers think about such things as rock bands, gaming systems or even gasoline.

But be careful…

This is not so for brand worldviews. The idea of Crystal Pepsi (a clear Pepsi of the early 90’s) lost its fizz because it violated our worldview of what Pepsi should look like. The introduction of pizza at Subway clogged the arteries of our worldview of healthy Subway sandwiches. And the concept for an upscale, yuppie Walmart “cheapened” our worldview of Walmart as a place to find inexpensive, “plain toast” kind of products.

So go ahead and stretch the category but tread carefully when it comes to your brand.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

We’re all middlemen

[I apologize for the lack of post – I was romping and having fun last week and now I’m trying to get back into the swing of things.]

We’re all middlemen (or middlewomen). It doesn’t matter if you sell your widget directly to the customer, you are still only a means to an end.

A brand is nothing more than a conduit to a need that the consumer wants. It could be they don’t want to look stupid in front of their peers or they could be looking for acceptance or security. Whatever it is, your brand can help them get what they are ultimately after.

Start with the assumption that your brand is only the means to and end and you’ll begin to promote your brand and talk with customers much more effectively.

Seinfeld on Marketing: The laws of B.O.

Hello one and all. Call your friends and neighbors because it’s time once again for Seinfeld on Marketing.

In this episode, Jerry and Elaine just picked up their car from the valet service at a restaurant and are heading home:

JERRY: Boy, do you smell something?

ELAINE: Do I smell something? What am I, hard of smelling? Of course I smell something.

JERRY: What is it?

ELAINE: I think it’s B.O.!

JERRY: What?

ELAINE: It’s B.O. The valet must have had B.O.

JERRY: It can’t be. Nobody has B.O. like this.

ELAINE: Jerry. It’s B-O!

JERRY: But the whole car smells.


JERRY: So when somebody has B.O., the “O” usually stays with the “B”. Once the “B” leaves, the “O” goes with it.

It’s a well known law in “smell-ology” – the “O” typically follows the “B” like stink on a monkey. It’s hard to change the “O” without first changing the “B” – it’s just the way it works. It’s true in marketing as well:

  • Cancellations typically follow a breach in trust.

  • Dialogue usually follows a tribe gathered around a remarkable product, service or idea.

  • Silence usually follows an ill-conceived mass marketing plan.

The idea is not to try and change the outcome of the “O” while using the same “B.” The idea is to synchronize the intended “O” with the correct “B.”

A quick story…
Many, many moons ago I worked for a company that sold light bulbs over the telephone. I literally had a phone book and a telephone and my days were spent trying to interrupt people to get them to buy some light bulbs.

As you can imagine, it was a complete disaster. Looking back I see that now, but at the time I really felt like I could change the “O” of impending fate that almost all the other great telephone light bulb salesmen that came before me faced. Okay, so there’s no such thing as a great telephone light bulb salesmen, but I thought I could be “the one” – a Neo of sorts for the light bulb community. But my “O” of failure followed my “B” of trying to sell light bulbs on the telephone just like everyone else.

Sure, some get lucky. A few people in Vegas get an “O” of 100% return or more on their “B.” But Vegas wouldn’t exist if most of the “O’s” of money separation didn’t follow most “B’s” of opening your wallet in a Casino.

So before you begin your next marketing campaign, start that new product line or create that blog, ask yourself what “O” you want and match it with the “B” that is most likely to get you that result.

[SEINFELD SIDENOTE: If you have $200,000 burning a hole in your pocket, consider buying this Porsche 911 on Ebay that was once owned by Jerry Seinfeld.]

Happy Friday all!

This post is part of a weekly series, Seinfeld on Marketing.

Flash Insight: Double talk

A flash of insightA customer can’t hear what you’re saying over the double talk.

Lame advice: We want holes!

Lame advice: People don’t go to the store and buy a ¾” drill bit. What they really want is a ¾” hole.

Not exactly. I cannot think of anyone that wakes up in the morning, stretches and while brushing their teeth thinks to themselves, “You know what I need? More holes!”

Sure, when you buy a drill bit what you really want is a hole. But what you want doesn’t end there. It could be you want holes to hang pictures of your family or to make a tree house for the kids. But it doesn’t end there either!

Why do you want to hang pictures of your family? It could be that your wife has been nagging reminding you for the last 2 months to “hang those darn picture or else” and you just want some peace back in your life. It could be that the pictures remind you of what’s important and helps you to focus on your priorities. Or it could simply be that hanging family pictures is a social norm and you don’t want to look silly in front of the neighbors.

So why do some marketers stop at the first benefit (drill bit -> holes)? Answer: because it’s simpler. The truth is that we marketers may never know the underlying benefit each consumer seeks when buying our products. So we tend to stop at the benefit that most consumers have in common. But if you can tap into the specific underlying emotional benefit for each consumer, you’ll be that much better off understanding your individual consumer’s needs.

Happy Tuesday!

26 reasons why I love marketing

I must confess that I wasn’t always in love with marketing – in college, there was another. I started out as Architecture major in college (who didn’t?). After some time, I realized that it wasn’t for me. But I still wanted to find something that allowed me to be creative yet use my passion for improvement as well. That is when I bumped into marketing. And boy am I glad I did!

Let me tell you 26 reasons why I love marketing:

I love exceeding expectations * It’s never dull * There’s no better way to have a dialogue with customers * It’s better than being an accountant (most of my family members were or are accountants!) * It’s action oriented (It even ends in “ing”) * It’s full of profound surprises and insights * The best people I know are marketers (though I’m a little biased) * Cheaters don’t win here * It forces me to look outside of my own opinions * It allows the remarkable to bubble to the surface * It’s the best way to relieve a consumer’s pain * I can do it in my pajamas * We all need it * It uses the left and right sides of my brain * I can annoy my friends and family with marketing geek speak * I’m more forgiving of other company’s mistakes (at times more critical) * When done right, it’s very powerful * Having a dialogue with customers makes me smile * There’s so much to learn * I understand the phrase “Having a Purple Cow who Zags in a Blue Ocean * It’s better then being beat with a bag of oranges * It offers plenty for my brain to do * You get to participate in tribes of loyal consumers * It’s everywhere * Spreading ideas is so cool * I get to be a writer, producer and storyteller

Tell me, what are your reasons for loving (or hating) marketing?

Happy Monday all!

Seinfeld on Marketing: Man Hands

You know what? I just looked and this is officially the first anniversary of the Seinfeld on Marketing series. Woot! Now back to the show…

Since today is sort of a special day, I thought I’d do something a little different. I don’t know how/if this will work but here we go. I am only going to provide the video clip and you (being the smart marketers that you are) are going to make up the marketing lesson.

Jerry is setup with a woman with “man hands.” She’s part woman, part horrible beast. Here is the video:

[RSS readers, click here]

So what’s the marketing lesson? Write one sentence or a few paragraphs – the stage is now yours (It’s Friday, just have fun with it!)

This post is part of a weekly series, Seinfeld on Marketing.

Flash Insight: Whispering

A flash of insightWhispering to the one is louder than shouting to the masses.

My broken afternoon

Let me tell you about a couple of “broken” things I saw this afternoon on my way to do a couple of errands.

Wal-Mart SignFirst, a visit to my friendly, neighborhood Wal-Mart. They had a 100+ word advertisement about survival kits on the sliding door as you walk in. Not only is it way to long to just glance at it while you walk inside but even if I wanted to stop and read this declaration-of-independence-sized ad the darn thing kept moving every time someone moved in front of the door sensor to go in! Broken.

Gas Pump ScreenNext, a visit to the poor house (gas station). For those of us who are above 6 feet, the gas pump screen can be a very hard thing to view. To make sure I pressed “yes” (as proof to my grandkids that gasoline “in my day” was merely $4.25 a gallon) I had to scrunch down and line up the “yes” arrow with the right button so that I didn’t press the “no” button by mistake (okay, I’m lazy). But why not just make the “yes” and “no” on the opposite sides of the screen? (and while you’re at it, allow me to press any button on that side – here’s my very crude mock-up)? Broken.

What broken things have you seen lately?